Red Allen


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Oddly, this first-rate Folkways recording -- spelled "bluegrass" with a lower-case "b" -- began as an attempt to interest commercial-budget labels in putting out Allen product. It came to the attention of Folkways' Moe Asch, who put it out in 1964. It was the result of two separate sessions with different personnel, always including Allen and mandolinist/vocalist Frank Wakefield; on the first session they were supported by Pete Kuykendall on banjo and Tom Morgan on bass, on the second by Bill Keith on banjo and Fred Weisz on bass. These meshed together for a dozen solid performances, highlighted not just by fine playing and harmonizing, but also by Allen's grainy, emotional lead vocals. All 12 of the songs appear on the 2001 Smithsonian Folkways compilation The Folkways Years 1964-1983, along with a half-dozen outtakes from the sessions, and ten performances from Allen releases on Folkways in the late '70s and early '80s.

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